RIP Sharon Jones (1956-2016)

When I discovered the album 100 Days 100 Nights in 2009, it was a breath of fresh air. It was a time when my life was very oriented towards Asia and my own Asian heritage, but musically I was returning to the funk and soul music that I have long adored and wished to play myself. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings fit perfectly into that milieu. The songs, especially the title track and “Tell Me” quickly became part of my regular rotation. The strength of music is of course mostly due to Ms Jones and the band, but the production also intrigued me, as they went back to some of the technologies that made those earlier records. Both the physical artifact and the music references James Brown, one of our musical heroes, and the band intersects other more recent favorites such as Amy Winehouse and The Budos Band.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
[By Jacob Blickenstaff [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

Sharon Jones’ battle with cancer, which ultimately took her life this past week, also hits home for us at the moment. She had a long fight that included remission and optimism only to watch it come roaring back. It’s a painfully familiar story for us at CatSynth.

Weekend Cat Blogging #82: Black Pride

This New Years edition of Weekend Cat Blogging is being hosted by Champaign Taste. We wish all our WCB friends, feline and human, a happy and healthy new year!

Our contribution this week continues our tribute to James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, who is a hero of ours here at CatSynth; he passed away this past Monday. In addition to his music (which is playing in the background as I write this), he made contributions to civil rights and the “Black Power” movement, through his efforts to promote African American ownership of the distribution of music on records and radio, and of course his classic anthems such as “Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud.” It is in honor of this anthem that Luna strikes a proud, stately pose this week, reminiscent of the iconography of the Egyptian goddess Bast:

The connection between black cats and civil rights isn't entirely gratuitous. Consider the well-known symbol of the Black Panther Party. Although founded in Oakland in 1966, the story goes that the party took its symbol from the Lowndes County (Alabama) Freedom Organization:

We chose for the emblem a black panther, a beautiful black animal which symbolizes the strength and dignity of black people, an animal that never strikes back until he's back so far into the wall, he's got nothing to do but spring out. Yeah. And when he springs he does not stop.

Getting back to James Brown, I would be remiss if I did not also recognize one of my former cats Morty, the original “Supa-Bad Kitty”:

He got his nickname for his constant mischief, like sitting on the dining room table, but remainingly devilishly lovable. Plus, he could shake his money maker like no other kitty I've met. I miss him – he was taken by a former girlfriend and although I haven't seen him in many years, I hope he is doing well.